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It is not uncommon to read a passage of Scripture that I have read many times, like James 5, and see something that I have never seen before. Verse 8 grabbed my attention this week – and especially one phrase in verse 8: “You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.”
Two questions come to my mind: 1) why is the phrase “establish your hearts” linked to the coming of the Lord, and 2) how do you “establish your heart.”
James certainly believed that the Lord could return imminently. Even though it has now been 2000 years we should live with that same anticipation. We should live as if we will meet the Lord today. Why? Because we might. Maybe He won’t come to us (or maybe He will) but we never know when we might go to Him. Many many people every day find themselves un-expectantly in the presence of the Lord. 1 Peter 3:15 says this: “In your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy…”
James had some genuine concerns about the health of his reader’s hearts. Even a cursory reading of his letter to them will reveal this. He also knew that because of the persecution directed toward Christians that any day any one of them could find themselves in the presence of the Lord. No doubt James would have the same concern for the hearts of believers in 2021. So how do we make sure that our hearts are established – or strengthened (as the Christian Standard Bible says) – and ready for “the day of Christ’s appearing?
Heart health features several components:
1) Things you need to STOP doing because they are bad for your heart. You know what these are. You know the things that you are doing that are creating an unholy heart. The only real question is are you willing to STOP doing these things so that your heart can heal.
2) Things that you need to START doing because they are good for your heart. You know what these are as well: reading and pondering the Word, focused time in prayer, resolute obedience, fellowship with believers, worship with the saints of God.
3) Regular Check-ups. Twice a year I go to the doctor and let him listen to my heart and ask me questions about my healthy (or unhealthy) heart habits. Once a year I have comprehensive lab work done to try to spot anything that might need attention. Shouldn’t we be as diligent spiritually as we are physically? Who in your life has permission to ask you about the health of your heart? When was the last time that you reviewed your heart diagnostics? What would a spiritual check-up reveal about the health of your heart?
May this brick help you to establish and strengthen your heart so that not only are you able to run the race with endurance but also are prepared to to meet the Lord whenever that may be.